Archive for June 3rd, 2015

Kneller receives 2015 environmental health education award

Phillip Kneller, associate professor of environmental health, will be presented with the 2015 Jack B. Hatlen Award at the annual meeting of the Association of Environmental Health Academic Programs in Orlando, Florida, on Monday, July 13.

Kneller received notice of the award in a recent letter from the organization which read, in part, “This award is given to individuals in recognition of their contributions to AEHAP and of their long-standing commitment to promoting excellence in environmental health education. Over the years, your commitment to AEHAP has been immeasurable. We appreciate all you do for us, students and the field of environmental health.”

Kneller was nominated by WCU colleagues Burton Ogle, Tracy Zontek and Brian Byrd, and was selected by the organization’s board of directors. The organization’s meeting takes place in concert with the National Environmental Health Association Conference in Orlando.

To learn more about the award, the organization or WCU’s environmental health program, reach Kneller at 828-227-2654 or

Garcia-Castanon wins poetry competition

Santiago Garcia-Castanon, professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages, won first prize in the 2015 Lincoln-Marti International Poetry Competition for “Las fronteras del amor” (“The boundaries of love”).

Santiago Garcia-Castanon

Santiago Garcia-Castanon

Garcia-Castanon is an award-winning poet and novelist in his native Spain and is the author of 14 books, including six poetry collections and two novels.

Science team discovers mosquito species in U.S.

A multidisciplinary science team from Western Carolina University recently published a manuscript in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association detailing the recognition of a mosquito species (Aedes pertinax) found for the first time in the United States.

Brian Byrd and student collect mosquitoes in this 2009 photo.

Brian Byrd and student collect mosquitoes in this 2009 photo.

The work was conducted by WCU faculty and staff members from the Environmental Health Program, Brian Byrd and Bruce Harrison, and forensic research scientists from the Department of Chemistry and Physics, Brittania Bintz and Mark Wilson. The team collaborated with the Indian River Mosquito Control District in Vero Beach, Florida, to complete its study.

A PDF copy of the research can be found at

Staff member helps edit new textbook about college diversity

A textbook titled “Exploring Issues of Diversity Within HBCUs” and co-edited by Western Carolina University’s College Student Personnel Program Director Adriel A. Hilton has been published.

HBCUsCoverHilton, along with three other editors, created the text for use in courses on diversity in higher education and sociology of higher education.

“This volume is an essential contribution to the literature on the historical and contemporary dynamics of diversity as well as the realities, challenges and opportunities associated with diversity work at historically black colleges and universities,” Hilton said. “The book’s four sections focus on the historical developments and socio-political factors impacting diversity work at HBCUs, organizational structure and philosophical approaches, challenges and opportunities facing particular populations, and an analysis of best practices.”

The text, edited by Hilton with Joelle D. Carter of Western Kentucky University, Derek Greenfield and Ted N. Ingram of Bronx Community College, was published by Information Age Publishing in the “Contemporary Perspectives on Access, Equity and Achievement” series, edited by Chance W. Lewis, Carolyn Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Urban Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

It is available in hardcover and paperback editions, as well as an eBook. For more information on the text, see the publisher’s page

Dennison completes small business counselor certification

Tommy Dennison, business counselor at Western Carolina University’s Small Business and Technology Development Center, has successfully completed the National Development Council’s Economic Development Finance Professional certification program.

The nationally recognized program includes three weeklong classes and requires passing a rigorous four- to five-hour examination following each class. The training focuses on creating opportunities in the following areas: business credit, real estate finance analysis, loan packaging procedures, negotiating and problem-solving skills, and deal structuring techniques.

Dennison completed the certification in a cohort with 15 other staff members of the Small Business and Technology Development Center, a statewide business advisory service of the University of North Carolina system administered by N.C. State University and operated in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“We are committed to ensuring our counselors are as knowledgeable as possible,” Scott Daugherty, State Director of the SBTDC, said of the certification achievement. “The advanced competencies resulting from the EDFP certification will enhance the SBTDC’s capacity to help small to medium sized businesses secure capital to sustain growth.”

Dennison joined WCU’s small business program in 2013. He counsels, trains and provides support to small and midsize businesses with a concentration on the seven westernmost counties in Western North Carolina.

The SBTDC provides management counseling and education services to businesses throughout North Carolina from 16 offices across the state. For more information, visit

Retired professor’s ‘fool-the-eye works’ to be shown in Wisconsin

Paintings done by retired Western Carolina University professor Lee Budahl will be presented by the Wisconsin Union Directorate Art Committee at the Wisconsin Union Galleries’ Gallery 1308 in Madison, Wisconsin, Friday, June 12 through Tuesday, July 28.

“The paintings are in the trompe l’oeil (fool-the-eye) mode, which attempts to deceive the viewer into believing that a painted image is actually a three-dimensional object,” Budahl said. “This type of painting has existed from ancient Rome until today, when ‘shadows’ often appear at the edges of photos printed in magazines and advertisements.”
Budahl, who taught art at Western Carolina from 1972 to 2004, will be present at the exhibit’s opening reception on June 12, from 6 – 8 p.m.

"25 Three Vases" by Lee Budahl

“25 Three Vases” by Lee Budahl

In 2010, Budahl self-published a novel, “The Wars of the Littendahl Men,” and in 2011 wrote and drew a graphic novel for WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center called “Capt. Orr’s Badge.”

WCU’s free summer concerts begin June 11 with American Gonzos

The 2015 Summer Concert Series at Western Carolina University gets underway Thursday, June 11, with a free performance featuring the rock trio American Gonzos.

American Gonzos

American Gonzos

The Asheville-based musicians will take the stage at 7 p.m. at WCU’s Central Plaza. Those attending are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs for comfortable seating.

American Gonzos includes two WCU alumni from the class of 2009 – Andrew Thelston, guitarist and lead vocalist, and Michael Dean, who plays bass and provides backup vocals. The third member of the trio is Toby Burleson, drummer and backup vocalist.

Known for their musicianship and catchy tunes, members of the trio say they gather inspiration from many genres of music, including rock, funk, punk and alternative. The band was organized in 2010, and in 2011 the three musicians released their self-titled debut album, which was followed by their second album, “No Way to Live,” in 2013. The band members are currently working on a new collection of songs with longtime producer Randall Harris.

All concerts in the free series are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursdays in June and July. Upcoming acts include Bubonik Funk, June 25; Doug Gibson, July 16; Buchanan Boys, July 23; and Steph Stewart and the Boyfriends, July 30. The rain location for all the events is Illusions in A.K. Hinds University Center.

For more information, contact Francis Ann Ortiz, assistant director of campus programming, at 828-227-2612 or

Steph Stewart and the Boyfriends

Steph Stewart and the Boyfriends

By Randall Holcombe

Students highlight undergraduate achievement with 10th edition of Imagine

The students and staff of Western Carolina University’s Honors College have been celebrating the recent publication of the 10th annual edition of the college magazine, Imagine.

The magazine includes 32 pages of stories written by Honors College students that feature undergraduate achievement at WCU. This year’s edition varies from earlier ones as it marks the first time the magazine has been designed by students, said Brian Railsback, dean of the college.

The Imagine magazine design team, consisting of (from right) students Katana Lemelin, Savannah Camper and Kaitlyn Stafford and their mentor, WCU staff member Rubae Schoen, visited a local printer for a “press check” of the magazine.

The Imagine magazine design team, consisting of (from right) students Katana Lemelin, Savannah Camper and Kaitlyn Stafford and their mentor, WCU staff member Rubae Schoen, visited a local printer for a “press check” of the magazine.

The magazine was developed almost a decade ago by a group of five Honors College freshmen. Railsback said he came up with the idea of creating the publication as a way “to better market undergraduate success stories in such things as undergraduate research, service and study abroad.” A student suggested “Imagine” as the name and the first issue wound up winning a special merit award in the magazine category from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

Over the years, the magazine has been important for the Honors College by helping develop a sense of ownership for the students involved in its creation, Railsback said. Also, the publication has been used as a tool in student recruitment and has helped prospective students imagine their own success stories at WCU, he said.

The faculty adviser for this year’s issue was Jeremy Jones, assistant professor in WCU’s Department of English. Rubae Schoen, director of brand experience in WCU’s Marketing Office, served as a mentor for the three students who came up with the design – Kaitlyn Stafford, Katana Lemelin and Savannah Camper.

“The students had a concept for a new, edgier design from the start,” Railsback said. “It was exciting to see their vision become a reality.”

Student writers for the new edition were Meghan Classen, Madeline Forwerck, Justin Riopko, Jake Browning, Kenyetta McGowens, Ryan Riley, Holly Thomas, James Landolf, Taylor Kinter, Diane Schleicher, Alison Russell, Sammie Harris, Madeline Moore, Katelyn Townsend and Sydney Price.

This year’s Imagine includes some “Last Words” written by Railsback, who is stepping down as dean of the Honors College at the end of June to return to WCU’s English faculty. He has served two stints as dean, totaling nearly 15 years.

The 2015 edition of Imagine is viewable online by visiting and clicking on the “Imagine Magazine” link on the lower right.

By Randall Holcombe

Right Path participants donate Cherokee language CD, workbook to museum

Members of the 2011-12 class of the Right Path Adult Leadership Program recently presented a Cherokee language CD and companion workbook to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

The Right Path Program is part of the Western North Carolina Leadership Initiative, which is administered through Western Carolina University’s Coulter Faculty Commons. The 12-month program provides leadership training taught through the prism of Cherokee culture.

The Right Path group’s language project, titled “Second Language Learning,” is an expansion of a 2012 group project to translate and record phrases commonly used by 18- to 40-year-old Cherokee people. The goal of the recent project was to help individuals learn the Cherokee language within their personal time constraints and to learn phrases popular with young adults.

Copies of the CD and workbook have been distributed across 10 Cherokee communities.

Jeremy Wilson, a member of the 2011-12 Right Path cohort, thanked Cherokee language speakers Nannie Hornbuckle and Sally Smoker and WCU Cherokee language faculty members Hartwell Francis and Tom Belt for their assistance with the project.

By Randall Holcombe

WCU Fine Art Museum opens gift shop, new exhibits

A new art museum gift shop, FAMShop, has opened in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center on the Western Carolina University campus, close to the Fine Art Museum galleries.

Tyann Stubbs (right), a student in the fine arts program, assists customers at the FAMShop. "I am extremely excited to work in the Fine and Performing Arts Museum because I have a passion for gallery work and art history," Stubbs said. "I love to draw animals, and primarily work in colored pencil although I have come to love charcoal and color pastels. I love learning about new artists and I could not see a better career path for myself than working in a gallery and helping fellow artists display their work."

Tyann Stubbs (right), a student in the fine arts program, assists customers at the FAMShop. “I am extremely excited to work in the Fine and Performing Arts Museum because I have a passion for gallery work and art history,” Stubbs said. “I love to draw animals, and primarily work in colored pencil although I have come to love charcoal and color pastels. I love learning about new artists and I could not see a better career path for myself than working in a gallery and helping fellow artists display their work.”

Denise Drury, museum director, said the shop offers a wide variety of works created by students, faculty, staff members, alumni and friends of the university. “It is also operated by work-study students, staff members and volunteers,” she said.

FAMShop hours during the summer are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, overlapping most of the museum’s regular hours at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (and until 7 p.m. Thursdays).

Summer exhibits at the Fine Art Museum also offer a variety of media and creativity.

“YeeHaw: Selections from the WCU Fine Art Museum Permanent Collection” includes letterpress and blockprint works, many of which were created in a poster format. “Artists Julie Belcher and Kevin Bradley operated the iconic Yee-Haw Industrial Letterpress and Design Co. in Knoxville from 1996 until 2012,” Drury said. “Their acclaimed rough-cut, honky-tonk style caught the eye of cultural icons like Lucinda Williams, Cormac McCarthy and Ralph Lauren, who commissioned work from Belcher and Bradley. During its time as a working press, Yee-Haw held the largest collection of letterpress type east of the Mississippi.” The exhibit is on display through Friday, Sept. 4.

“Source Material” features the work of visiting artists teaching at the Cullowhee Mountain Arts summer workshop. The exhibit is so named because the artists’ works will be displayed along with the item or items that sparked their creativity. “For instance, Alice Ballard will be showing her earthenware work ‘Large Magnolia Pod’ along with the natural seed pods that inspired it,” Drury said. “Source Material” runs from Monday, June 15 through Friday, July 24.

Admission is free at the Fine Art Museum, though donations are welcome. To learn more about the museum, contact Drury at 828-227-3591 or

By Keith Brenton

"Large Magnolia Pod" by Alice R. Ballard; part of the upcoming "Source Material" exhibit.

“Large Magnolia Pod” by Alice R. Ballard; part of the upcoming “Source Material” exhibit.

"Evel Kenievel," by Julie Belcher and Kevin Bradley; part of the current "YeeHaw" exhibit.

“Evel Kenievel,” by Julie Belcher and Kevin Bradley; part of the current “YeeHaw” exhibit.

Summer aqua fitness classes to begin June 16

Summer aqua fitness classes will be offered beginning Tuesday, June 16, and continuing through Thursday, July 30, by Western Carolina University’s Office of Continuing and Professional Education.

Classes will meet from 12:10 to 12:55 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday each week in the Reid Gymnasium pool. Fitness experts recommend aquatic exercises for individuals of all ages because it works all parts of the body with less strain on muscles and joints.

The cost is $35, and registration is ongoing. Participants who do not register before the first class will have to show a paid receipt to the lifeguard to participate.

For more information or to register, call 828-227-7397 or go online to

Annual Leadership tour roams region from Robbinsville to Asheville

The second annual Western Carolina University Leadership Regional Tour featured 36 campus leaders traversing the mountainous Western North Carolina region during a weeklong expedition Monday, May 11, through Friday, May 15.

WCU’s A.J. Grube elected Southern Conference president

A.J. Grube, Western Carolina University’s faculty athletics representative, was elected president of the Southern Conference at the intercollegiate athletics association’s annual spring meetings recently in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

WCU mini-mester course takes students to Tornado Alley

A group of Western Carolina University students had an opportunity to learn about leadership and management in times of disaster as they participated in a May mini-mester course that included a service-learning trip to Tornado Alley.

Human resources students serve as consultants to businesses, organizations

During the spring semester, students in the WCU’s master’s degree program in human resources served as pro bono human resources consultants for businesses in the region. They developed and delivered eight projects for various entities, including a nonprofit organization, a locally owned small business, and a town government.

Categories | The Reporter

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Commencement 2017
Commencement 2017


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